Shark Encounter on the Rye Banks

by Gletwyn Rubidge

Just want to tell you about my dive on Saturday. I went to the Rye banks and dived on the western edge - 17 m viz, coldish and no decent fish. Tried chumming but still no luck. After an hour I decided time to move and took one last dive. Down at about ten meters a movement to my left attracted my attention and down at about 20m in a gully I saw a very wide shape heading my way slowly. I saw it was a white shark (guess a little over 5 m and at 1 ton plus) and pointed my gun toward it.

It came straight up at me and its head shook with each tail stroke. It was gathering speed as it came and I thought, "Now you really have to play your cards right boy, or else." I maintained eye contact (kind of strange the way such a shark looks from the front like a cone that has been pasted onto a beach ball and I could see its eyes even at that slanted angle). This was all happening in slow motion although very quickly in real time. I never had time to put on a powerhead.

As it got close I took a fin stroke toward it and pushed hard with the gun into the charging shark - the spear tip struck between the nostril and the eye - the 7 mm spear bent badly (a zigzag bend) as I pushed the shark away. The shark moved off and out of sight. I stuck my head out of the water to warn the other four divers and quickly stuck my head back in to keep an eye out for the shark. I headed for the boat that was some 15m away, got on and shouted to the others to make sure they were out, all responded except Eugene.

The shark was making passes at him and followed him to the boat. We decided to move to the other side of the Rye Banks for the rest of our dive. I was a bit nervous after that and looked about each time I shot a fish. I was really fortunate to have seen the shark approaching and to have had the speargun. Perhaps it would not have bitten me but I am sure the bump would have been a rib-breaker. I have spent perhaps 30 days diving on the Rye Banks and have seen hoards of bronze whalers and Raggies, but this is the first White, and the first I have seen since 98. Gletwyn.